Statement on open access to scientific knowledge

 

For an open science, which is not subject to financial interests

In order to achieve the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 4, the condition to be fulfilled is to develop quality education, based on production and dissemination of a sound, ascertainable and reliable scientific knowledge. This knowledge must be accessible to everyone, in order to play a part in raising the level of cultural literacy, as well as in developing the competence and the critical mind of the population. The digital revolution nowadays opens new possibilities to access knowledge and use it for education, research and creation purpose. Yet those achievements are not granted: the large editorial companies, private businesses, which centralize the majority of scientific publications, are lobbying intensively at all levels. Their purpose is to distort Open Access to their advantage: the “author/payer” system allows them to impose their dominance and thus increase their profits. Scientific knowledge becomes a challenge in the globalized market, mostly in the hands of the countries of the North and of capitalistic interests.

We, scientists gathered in the 22th General Assembly of the WFSW in Dakar acknowledge the key role of an open science, regarded as a public good; a science which is not subject of pressure from the capitalistic interests. Open access to research results, products and data (such as publications, databases and other digital resources) is one of the corner stones of education and culture, which are indispensable to the society.

We support the initiatives of the countries and public scientific institutions, which develop Open Access web portals dedicated to scientific knowledge, and we commit ourselves to promoting their expansion.

We appeal to all UN agencies, first of all the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), to take action to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including the establishment of rules guaranteeing equitable access to educational and scientific resources worldwide.

We, scientists gathered in the 22th General Assembly of the WFSW at the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, a mecca of knowledge in the African land, are placing a particular emphasis on the opening of scientific knowledge to everyone, in every country, especially in the countries of the South.

Development for and by Africa, the theme of our Symposium, will only be carried out through a groundbreaking endeavor to share and exchange knowledge, favoring its free circulation. Knowledge is not a commercial good. We must not leave it in the hands of private monopolies. We must defend the “bibliodiversity”, which is a form of “biodiversity”, including language diversity.

Dakar, December 2017

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EXPLANATORY NOTE

The Statement on Open Science and Free Access to Scientific Knowledge, drafted by the Working Group of the World Federation of Scientific Workers that deals with the “situation of researchers”, was adopted at the plenary session of the 22nd General Assembly of the WFMC, at the Dakar venue, Senegal, in December of last year. The reference to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 4 is quite pertinent. Also the decisive importance of free access to Science and the results of scientific work for the “less developed” southern countries is duly underlined in the Statement. The business of large publishing houses that pervert the objectives of “free access” by imposing charges on authors is denounced.

The Executive Board of OTC

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